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Isis - Panopticon CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

4.12 | 290 ratings

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4 stars With Panopticon, Isis seems to have taken the perfect combination of elements from their previous albums, and added some extra spark to make this a truly brilliant record. They fuse traditional metal and hardcore riffing and vocals with the intricate textures, vibrant layering, and laid-back structure of post-rock bands such as Mogwai.

The monstrously epic songs (all tracks fall within the 7-11 minute range) flow effortlessly from crushing distorted chords to light, ambient beauty and back again. Every second of music is powerful and moving in its own way. The instrumental compositions mostly speak for themselves (and they do so very well), as vocals are used sparingly throughout the album. This is a good thing because Turner has a rather repulsive hardcore growl at times, but he is also willing to use melody when appropriate. The sparse use of vocals becomes important because, while little emphasis is placed on lyrics, the vocals act perfectly as another layer in a vast soundscape. As ugly as the vocals can be at times, there really is not one place on the record where I would say "man, I wish he hadn't sung at that part..."

What is most interesting to me about this record is that the music itself is a paradox. It is undeniably metal, yet undeniably post-rock. Panopticon flawlessly combines metal intensity with a distinctly ambient feel. It is an album that you can listen to intently and study for its musical qualities, or you can put it on the stereo and sit back and read a book to it.

I really give this album 4.5 stars, because it's clearly not for everyone, but for any fan of interesting prog-metal and/or post-rock, this album is a MUST.

GoldenSpiral | 4/5 |


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